Consumer is getting younger in India: Niladri Mazumder

Briefing about the future brand strategies Niladri Mazumder, President & COO, Seiko India Spoke to Indianretailer.com
Niladri Mazumder, President & COO, Seiko India

Seiko, the premium to luxury watchmaker, is looking forward to double its boutique stores count from 6 to 12 in India by 2018 through franchising. Also while being present on Amazon it is in talk with Flipkart and Paytm to enhance its e-commerce presence.

Thus briefing about the future brand strategies Niladri Mazumder, President & COO, Seiko India Spoke to Indianretailer.com  

Capitalising on growing premium, luxury and luxury accessories market in India what are Seiko’s future plans of widening its presence of boutique stores?
We are currently selling from about 385 multi-brand outlets (MBOs) where we have our exclusive counter. Then we have six exclusive boutiques – two in Bengaluru and one each in Cochin, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. Worldwide, we have 66 boutiques, out which six are in India and by 2018 we want to take that number to around 10–12 exclusive boutiques in India through franchising.  

Which are the cities you are looking to explore with these boutiques?
There are some metro cities where we still don’t have a Seiko Exclusive Boutique i.e. Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune and Hyderabad. So we shall definitely look at expanding in them. The tier II cities like Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Indore etc. also have a lot of potential for luxury watches.

What are your plans of widening e-commerce presence?
We have a Seiko mini site on Amazon since seven months. The response has been good considering we don't give discounts or too much discount. We might not look at other parties immediately but definitely, Flipkart and Paytm, we are having talks with. Also we cannot launch our e-commerce portal as we cannot retail by ourselves.

What is the ratio of contribution of offline boutique stores and online presence of Seiko to the total retail revenue of the brand in India?
The contribution from online platform is minuscule but we are meeting our numbers. Currently, luxury and affordable luxury, products priced Rs 50,000 and above, occupy 29 per cent of the sales of Seiko in India and we think the market has the potential to take it to 40 per cent by 2018-19. All I can say at the moment is that we have been meeting our numbers online and we don't want to jump into it. We want to tread cautiously.

Seiko plays in the Premium, affordable luxury and luxury segment. We start at around Rs 13,500 and go up to 50 lakh and above. Our average price currently in India is Rs 25,500. Within our portfolio the affordable luxury category that has been growing the fastest. The affordable luxury watches segment is growing by over 50 percent annually.

Among your sub brands which is largely preferred by the consumers?
We have been receiving a good response for our luxury watch collections — Astron, Grand Seiko and our Elite collections. Astron is world’s first GPS Solar Watch while Grand Seiko represents top of the line cutting edge watch making.

Around 4.5 years back we also launched our premium clock category in India priced from 2500-3000 and going up to 60,000. In this category, within a couple of years we became market leaders while growing at more than 20 percent annually.

What is the age group of target audience that you cater to?
In our case the age group has come down. Initially it was 35 - 40+.  Today I would say 25 - 40.

How do you observe the growing consumer awareness for premium watches in India?
What we are noticing is that over the years, the consumer is getting younger in India and is getting more in tune with International trends. Earlier what used to happen is if International trend was X India used to take 3-4 years to warm up to trends, that is not the case anymore. The Indian consumer is as knowledgeable if not more knowledgeable than any other consumers in the world. They research before buying any kind of luxury, premium product. The consumer has got more modern, more educated about products and categories and I expect that change to happen more in the future.

What is your focus on better consumer experience in your stores?
We ensure that we only enter those stores that can sell Seiko watches while guaranteeing all of the consumer experience aspects. For new store we have a very stringent procedure to evaluate whether that store is Seiko-worthy or not. We approve stores that will sell Seiko in India on the basis of detailed assessment of the ambience of the store, the display, the way a customer is informed about the product and the after sales service.

However young generation is betting more on digital products what are your marketing plans?
For serious watch brands like us I consider Apple definitely as competition. Apple will sure over the years improve its smart watch and create competition at a price point of $1,000. While that is the case, the flipside of this smart watch is also that a lot of people, especially techies, who never used to wear watches earlier, post buying their smart watch now want to buy more serious mechanical watches.

How do you find the competition in market and what is your market share?
Frankly, there’s no such research or no such exact figure to justify market share. I don’t think anybody can quantify it perfectly because there has been no research on this done by any governing body. Globally, we compete with brands like Rado, Tissot and Tag Heuer at the affordable luxury segment and Omega, Rolex at the luxury end. In the affordable luxury segment in India, I would say we are among the top three brands along with Rado and Tissot. India being a growing market, I think there's space for everyone here.

What are your future strategies for the India market?
The luxury segment grew by 70 percent in value, last year. We are looking at average 50 percent year-on-year growth in this segment. In the years to come, as we expand brand footprint, Grand Seiko will be the promoted in India. By 2018, we expect sales from this segment to contribute to at least 15 percent of the overall sales, up from the current 3-4 percent. We also plan to launch a collection specifically designed for Indian women. The collection will keep the attire and needs of Indian women in mind.

What is your current revenue and what is the future projection?
I am sorry; in the last 9 years we have not been able to share revenue. We can share CAGR figures which is around 20 percent annually. 

Niladri Mazumder
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